Lessons from the Cockpit has a blog exchange this week. Seattle writer Katherine Jenkins wrote the great piece below. Her book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, was recently picked up for publication. Please check out her complete bio at the end of her post. Be sure to read my post on her site as well by clicking here.
I have never flown a plane before, but I can only imagine how freeing that must feel. I do know that when I’m up in the air, there is a quiet, almost other-worldly feeling; I feel like I’m getting close to the source of life. There’s an eerie loneliness when you look out the window of a plane. It’s as if you and the passengers on your flight are the only ones who exist in the endless sky. The only change of scenery is the different shapes the clouds take. Sometimes you are in the clouds. Other times you soar above them and can finally detect their distinct shapes.
I usually request a window seat when I fly. I like to lean my head against the edge of my circular window and watch the view from above.
Recently, on a flight coming back from New York, I had the privilege of witnessing an endless sunset. We were flying to Seattle, so technically we were flying back in time. We moved fast enough to escape darkness. It was the longest sunset I had ever seen.
Some people are afraid of flying. I’m not a big fan of take-offs and landings. There’s always a risk involved. Once on the runway, the realization strikes that you have committed yourself to leaving the earth. There’s never a guarantee that you will touch down safely once airborne.
Whenever you do anything in life, there is a risk; especially when you try something new.
There’s the fear that you may never get off the ground. That you might fail. And what would people think if you failed?
And what if you do get off the ground and achieve great heights in your life? What will happen to the life you once knew? Will you always be looking back toward the ground, back toward where you once were and wishing you could return?
What makes us afraid of reaching our highest potential in life? What is so scary about soaring high?
In freedictionary.com, I found these four definitions of the word soar:
1. To rise, fly, or glide high and with little apparent effort.
2. To climb swiftly or powerfully.
3. To glide in an aircraft while maintaining altitude.
4. To ascend suddenly above the normal or usual level.
I believe people, by nature, tend to follow the status quo. We are creatures of habit. If someone throws a monkey wrench in our routine, we feel uneasy. Routines are comfortable, predictable and safe.
But what if you decided to do something different? What if you decided to leave your routine behind, leave the ground and soar?
What if you lose your footing and no longer have control? What if you ascend suddenly above the normal or usual level?
As I said, I’m not a big fan of take-offs and landings, yet I keep getting on planes. Currently, I would say that I’m in a “soaring” state in my life. I’ve left behind what was familiar and decided to take a risk and do something different. I have to say that getting off the ground took a lot of practice and patience, but I feel I’m finally flying at a nice altitude now. The view is great, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to return to the life I once knew. And that’s o.k.
Katherine Jenkins is a writer and an English as a Second Language teacher. She lived in Asia for over 10 years. While in Korea, she met a Korean Buddhist monk who later became her husband. She is currently writing 365 lessons for 2010 on her blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married.
She is also working on a book called Lessons from the Monk I Married, which was recently sold by her agent to Seal Press/Perseus Books and will be published and available in bookstores across North America in Spring 2012. The book, which is quite different from the blog, is about her 14-year journey with her husband.